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Climate Justice Organizers Plan for Wave of Actions

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Students in Ohio protest for clean energy jobs.

CREDIT: Flickr/Power Shift

Students and youth leaders from across the nation connected Thursday during a national strategy call hosted by the Energy Action Coalition. The call focused on the ongoing divestment movement, the Keystone XL pipeline, and the upcoming Forward on Climate rally planned for Feb. 17 in Washington D.C.

Climate justice organizers are harnessing the burgeoning national energy from students at more than 230 campuses pushing their boards of trustees to divest university holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel corporations. Awaiting President Obama's decision on the future of the Keystone pipeline, organizers are using this energy to add pressure during a time that could prove crucial in the history of the planet as a whole.

Sachie Hopkins-Hayakawa is a senior at Swarthmore College, one of the first colleges in the nation to launch a fossil fuel divestment campaign nearly two years ago as a way to stand in solidarity with the communities in Appalachia affected by mountaintop removal strip-mining.

She’s helping to organize the PowerUp! Divestment Convergence which aims to bring together divestment organizers and communities living on the front lines of resource extraction.

“We recognize that members of frontline communities are being affected everyday by extractive industries, and the youth are the ones who are going to be inheriting the climate problem. … So we’re hoping to bring those two groups together in this space and really develop a vision of what this movement could be,” she said during Thursday’s call.

Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune also joined the call to explain to historical significance of the climate movement at this moment in history as well as simultaneously pushing President Obama while maintaining him as an ally on climate change.

“We want to heighten the urgency that’s out there,” Brune said of the Sierra Club’s recent decision to use civil disobedience to protest the Keystone XL pipeline during the Feb. 17 rally in D.C. “We know that civil disobedience, when it’s used really well and rarely, can be one of the most powerful things we can do to provide a jolt, a wake-up call to the decision makers.”

Young people are forging the path forward on climate across the country with strategic divestment from fossil fuel holdings, direct action against extraction, and will prove to be a massive contingent during this month’s upcoming climate rally in D.C. to hold the president accountable on his promises to slow the rising tides of the global climate crisis.

Candice Bernd is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @CandiceBernd.

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